Hovis’ Friday diary: Some simple rules for our doolally parents

  • Dear diary,

    So wow! I had no idea how widespread the issue of insane mother’s was until this last week when I posted about mum’s moment of madness signing us up for the Wobbleberry challenge. Horses around the country have contacted me to tell me that their mothers have done the same and have cited awful tales of endless stressage in the rain, “matchy-matchy” outfits in scary pastel colours and a sudden shortage in the feed department. It’s clearly a madness that’s catching.

    I’m all for raising money for good causes but I do think this is going a tad far — mum’s even talking of trying to lure Evil Army Man out of retirement and back into the world of teaching and trust me as much as I love the man NOONE wants that. Like ever.

    So in response to such tragic cries for help I have devised some simple rules to enable all of us long suffering equines across the country to get out of this insane situation that our positively doolally parents have volunteered us for:

    For stressage avoidance:

    Wait until mother/father/sharer/aunty (*delete as appropriate) books their first lesson with some horrific stressage guru. Patiently allow them to dress you up in suitably poncy ensemble and amble agreeably to the school. Allow them to mount. Allow them to ask you to walk on and agreeably do so. Allow them to ask for trot. Stop. Turn your neck and look quizzically at them. Look agreeable but completely baffled. Continue in this vein until posh stressage coach is convinced you’ve never been broken in let alone are capable of the kind of stressage moves they were intending to teach you. Fondly watch their car disappear down the drive while your parent sobs hysterically into hay net. Half-pass back to your field, perform a perfect turn on the forehand and continue down the field in perfectly timed one-time changes with a small amount of passage. Repeat for as many trainers are prepared to come until everyone within a 50 mile radius thinks your parent is a delusional nut-case.

    For showjumping avoidance:

    Wait for a suitable training session/low level competition having until this point jumped like a star at home. Enter the arena and eye the first jump. Stride towards it with purpose and vigour. Two strides out slam on the brakes. HARD. Watch parent sail through the air or (if they have a good sticky bum) remove themselves from your inner ear canal from where they have just disappeared. Await remounting. Manfully (or marefully) approach the fence again and with effort lift both front feet over the poles. Do not do so with back legs. Straddle the fence with a bemused expression and a lack of movement that would win a game of musical statues hooves down. Allow arena party to dismantle the jump from around you. Head for next jump and clear by three times its actual height; preferably from a standing start like an electrified cat. Accelerate and head for the collecting ring with a manic look in your eye and some high pitched snorting. Jump six feet to the left at the sound of the elimination claxon, flattening any instructors or supportive venue workers. Exit the arena with your mortified parent and head for the warm-up. Jump all jumps perfectly then attempt to vigorously mount any other horses in the ring. Repeat until all venues in the area have blacklisted you and you feature in several harshly worded complaint letters from the mothers of the local pony club branch.

    For cross-country avoidance:

    Arrive at cross-country venue and refuse to leave the lorry/trailer. Eventually leave but regard everything with wide, wild eyes and top with violent spooking and sporadic shaking. Refuse to put your feet on any grass over 3cm high or on leaves. Carry out high end stressage moves when parent attempts to force the issue. If offered a lead horse, enthusiastically befriend it using your tongue and other body parts. Refuse to follow it over a jump. Repeatedly refuse to go into the water complex until parent/instructor/aunty/willing victim attempts to lead you in. Jump in and splash happily followed by a gratuitous roll if space permits. When parent attempts to ride you in refuse and repeat above steps until no one else will go in with you. When asked to jump a small coffin or ditch slam the brakes on and peer over the edge of the clearly gaping chasm like a terrified Japanese tourist at the Grand Canyon. When faced with skinny of any type affect a shoulder in which would make the mighty Viagra weep and sail past the jump to either side. Swap sides to prevent crafty parent second guessing you. When presented to natural fences approach without care, slow and then gratuitously treat the brush fence as an overweight American might treat an “all you can eat buffet” i.e. demolish at speed. With pleading eyes act as though you have now decided that following another horse over these terrifying obstacles is the best idea know to man (or indeed woman). Trot dutifully behind said lead horse until six strides out whereupon act as if this is the final fence in the Grand National and accelerate toward to it, beating the lead horse to the stride and then accelerating away like Denman up the Cheltenham hill while gratuitously and loudly passing wind in said aforementioned horse’s face. Finish with a flourish which may include a buck or two intended to unseat your now terminally depressed parent. Consider yourself to have extra points if your rider is wearing an inflatable air jacket and you can set it off. On the way back to the lorry/trailer park offer to walk through every puddle you see.

    Continued below…

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    Follow these instructions carefully and the following most excellent outcomes may be achieved:

    1. Your parent gives up on this daft idea and supports the most excellent charity by running cake sales or cleaning tack for other people whilst you return to your life of happy hacking or semi-retirement.


    2. Your parent is still determined to continue but finds a rider to take their place more suited to the athlete you clearly are; in my case Mary King or Ben Hobnob

    Or they sell you and buy a more suitable mount; which in my case would be impossible but for you thoroughbred types is a possibility. It’s up to you…



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